Digital Transformation: Advice from our Financial Services Principal Strategist
I was asked a question at a party a few weeks ago: “What’s the most important invention in human history?”
I know this is a trick question – based on the twinkle in the inquisitor’s eye, I knew it was meant to provoke a conversation, during which time he would elucidate to the audience his justification for why the pulley was his invention of choice. After a few moments, I responded with (I thought) a reasoned response: the plow.
“The plow? Seriously? Not the invention of fire, flight, or the internet?”
Seems I had trapped him in his own web of oneupsmanship. Yes, the plow.
Prior to the invention of the plow, nearly 100% of our societies were focused on meeting our immediate needs: hunting, gathering, mutual defence, and child-rearing. The plow – as one of humanity’s first inventions – allowed us to harness the awesome power of livestock to cultivate fields. This allowed us to make more food than we needed, freeing up people to specialize in other areas; blacksmiths, bakers, brewers, and fletchers.
The plow was the first force-multiplier – enabling society to transition from survival as a sole focus, to one where we could evolve in other avenues to our mutual benefit.
The reactionary model
This same concept of force-multiplication is something that we should all heed in today’s business climate. Most organizations exist in an environment where keeping up with the flow of customers occupies 100% of their time.
Specifically to Financial Services, most of our business is reactionary – customers come to us. We offer similar products with little to differentiate ourselves. We rely on our front-office to rustle the bushes and catch whatever comes out – and we rely on our middle and back-office teams to prepare it. For many of us, we live in the FinServ equivalent of a pre-plow world.
Moving toward a data-driven customer experience
In this now-rather-laboured metaphor, our plow is the concept of full digital enablement and analytics; empowering every member of the organization to wield the power of centralized data and key customer insights to the betterment of your customers. In doing so, your organization can leverage every customer interaction as a potential revenue opportunity while simultaneously providing a superlative customer experience.
Think about this from a personal perspective – what parts of your own customer experiences do you loathe? Waiting on hold for hours only to be transferred to another department, having to repeat yourself because nobody knows anything about me, and having a generic solution that doesn’t fit my needs thrust upon me.
Imagine now if every person in the organization knew who I was, what my history was, and what I value in my interactions? As a customer, my pain points get relieved. I stop being cattle herded through the gates we’re all so used to passing through.
Equipping your team
From your organization’s perspective, we know there are countless missed opportunities that slip through the cracks. Cross-sell opportunities don’t get tracked (or tracked well) largely because our facilities to capture are inadequate or our processes aren’t robust enough.
If a person comes into a branch looking for $300 in Mexican Pesos, how many of our tellers are trained to ask about our related travel insurance or gold rewards travel credit card? That seems straightforward enough – but what about the customer who had a car loan eight years ago (since paid off), and insurance with our firm showing he’s still got that car. Or the customer who recently opened an RESP for his newborn daughter, but has no wealth management relationship with us.
Taking the next step
Modern technology ties information together in ways we never thought possible and acts as a force-multiplier when in the hands of people that deal with our customers every step of the way. Not only will this provide a superlative experience for our customers, but will grow the bottom line for the firms wise enough to invest in doing it right.
The first plow was invented in 6000 BCE – five millennia after humans started cultivating crops by hand; fortunately, you don’t have to wait nearly that long to accelerate your organization’s digital transformation.
If you are interested in continuing this conversation about your financial services digital transformation with absolutely no further references to plows, get in touch with a Traction on Demand consultant today.
Written by Daniel Waldner, Principal Strategist, Financial Services at Traction on Demand